I’m always amused when I see packaged polenta at the grocery store, because it’s so easy to make at home. Bring 3 cups of water to boil, and slowly whisk in 1 cup of cornmeal. Continue to whisk constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and pour into container of your choice.
Plain polenta is a bit bland – which is sometimes exactly what you want if it’s accompanying something spicy — but I like to add fresh basil or rosemary to it. This is especially good if you’re going to fry it and serve with a gravy or white sauce (my favorite method of preparing it).
I like using a bread pan to pour the hot polenta into, because the solidified polenta can be easily sliced for frying. But for presention — when serving with fried greens and beans, for example – I’ve used Dixie cups or similar so I can slice pretty rounds of it. I’ve also poured it into round ZipLoc containers, which makes an attractive mold if you’re serving it cold on a buffet.